A Celebration of Life
Eris Chorney is a force of nature. If anyone has the ability to stare down cancer with equal parts courage, grace and humor, until cancer is afraid to stare her back, it is this wife, mother of two, grandmother of one and friend to so many. At age 50, Eris had the breathtaking misfortune to be diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2006 and then receive a second, unrelated diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer one month later in July. And this shattering news followed a bout with thyroid cancer that was treated in 1991. She was told to put her affairs in order. That was 10 years ago this past August.
"I call myself a 'BLT' survivor," Eris says with a smile, "and I'm not talking about sandwiches. I've survived breast, lung and thyroid cancer." Given Eris' medical history it is remarkable how little she is defined by disease. It is her sensational love of life and people that shines so radiantly while in her company. Literally, everything is a celebration. "My chemotherapy and radiation days were days that I would value rest and love from others. But the next day, I would make plans with my fabulous support circle to celebrate and appreciate life." When Eris' illness caused an early retirement from her career as a beloved middle school guidance counselor, she saw the silver lining: getting to spend more time with her aging parents.
In addition to coordinated medical care at University of Maryland's Greenebaum Cancer Center and UM St. Joseph's Cancer Institute, Edris credits her health, both physical and emotional, to her husband Brian, her loving source of strength and support. Brian and Eris' marriage is a testament to unabashed joy. And, she gives equal thanks to her friends. "Who knew you could combine getting your hair shaved off with a wine and cheese and wig celebration party?" she laughs.
It is Eris' belief that even though "you can't change your diagnosis, you can change your attitude toward it" that inspired her to support the Geraldine G. Schultz Endowment in the Cancer Institute's Breast Center. In August 2016, when Eris held a party to celebrate her 10 years of good health, she asked guests to donate to the endowment instead of bringing a gift. Focused on providing support for patients as they move into the wellness phase of their disease, the endowment will help women to find balance, peace and joy as they adjust to "the new normal," moving forward. "...Cancer can emotionally consume you if you let it...I want others to know that love really is the answer and there is always a way to get there and fill each day with tons of fun." Eris is the living proof.